CES 2009: Powermat: Contact Based Device Charging

Could this be the future of all gadget charging? We hope so...

It may be at its worst when travelling, but the amount of chargers we end up carrying these days is no laughing matter in the home either – so could this at last be the answer? Well, yes and no.

The ‘Powermat’ is the latest stab at contact based wireless charging and while it gets a number of new key factors right, it also carries one major downside.

On the surface (pun unintended but encouraged), the Powermat is a highly desirable solution that works by simply placing your gadgets onto a slim metal matt which is itself connected to a mains socket. You can charge as many devices as you can fit onto it and it is also powerful enough to charge a laptop via an adaptor. A vast array of casings are available for devices too and you can even get modules for charging batteries themselves.

Sadly the downside is simple: the casings themselves are just too bulky. In short this means you either a) are forced to significantly increase the bulk and weight of any product in your pocket or b) you need to remove and reinsert the device into its contact charging cover each time you want to power it up – destroying the convenience of such a system. In fact, compared to something as elegant as the solution for the Palm Pre it feels positively arcane.

That said, I’m not going to come down too hard on the Powermat since it works very well and will undoubtedly be of great use to many. I also understand that far thinner casings should be available in the future and at that point you’re suddenly getting a protective cover and convenient charging solution in one.

All good things…

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